A recent survey by Afrobarometer, a pan-African research network, says more than one-third of the African population has considered migrating from the continent.
The survey, published on Tuesday, drew data from 45,823 interviews across 34 African countries to arrive at its findings.
According to the research, people preferred to migrate not to Europe or America, but to another African country.
It listed economic hardship and unemployment, accounting for 44 percent and 29 percent respectively, as the main reasons cited by the participants for wanting to migrate.
It added that those most likely to leave are young adults and highly educated citizens, explaining that this finding “confirm concerns about migration’s draining effect on emerging economies, especially the resultant loss of valuable human resources”
According to the survey, the desire to migrate is highest in Central Africa and West Africa, where more than four in 10 citizens (46% and 41%, respectively) have given thought to leaving their country.
Potential emigrants are mostly men (40%) and urban residents (44%) than among women (33%) and rural dwellers (32%), while thoughts of moving abroad are about equally common among the relatively well-off and the poor, it added.
“This dispatch draws on new Afrobarometer data from 34 national surveys to explore the perceptions and preferences of ordinary Africans when it comes to international migration. Findings show that more than one-third of Africans have considered emigrating, though far fewer are making actual plans to leave. The data support concerns about human-resource drain: The young and the educated are most likely to consider going abroad,” the survey read.
“Finding work and escaping economic hardship are the most frequently cited reasons to consider emigrating – fully in line with our earlier findings that unemployment is the most important problem that Africans want their governments to address and that among the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, SDG8 (“decent work and economic growth”) is the highest priority for ordinary Africans (Coulibaly, Silwé, & Logan, 2018).
“The most preferred destination for potential emigrants is neither Europe nor the United States, but another African country Among those who have considered emigrating (“potential emigrants”), on average one in 10 (9%) – or about 3% of the total population – say they are currently making preparations to move. These proportions are highest in Zimbabwe and Lesotho.
“Young adults and highly educated citizens are most likely to consider leaving their country: Around half of each group say they have considered it at least “a little bit.” “In almost all countries, by far the most frequently cited reasons for emigrating are to look for work (44% on average) and to escape poverty and economic hardship (29%). ”
In line with widespread interest in intra-regional migration and the pursuit of economic opportunity, a majority (56%) of Africans think people should be able to move freely across international borders within their region. But the same proportion (56%) say they find it difficult to cross borders to work or trade in another country.
“While these findings reveal that a substantial number of Africans have at least considered moving to another country, far fewer are actually making plans to leave. Among the 37% who say they have thought about emigration, fewer than one in 10 (9%) report that they are seriously engaged in planning and making preparations to leave, such as getting a visa. But even at just 3% of the total population, this still represents substantial numbers of potential near-term migrants.”